Four good quarters of football can sour with one bad play.
LSU found that out the hard way as Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon simultaneously crossed the goalline and plunged a dagger into hearts of the 11 defenders in his wake two weeks ago.
Conversely, four bad quarters of football can be convientely forgotton after one strong stand.
LSU found that out Saturday night.
The Tigers allowed 463 yards to Ole Miss on Senior Day, but when it counted, the LSU defense forced the Rebels to retreat.
In a tied game, Ole Miss reached the LSU 16 yard line with about six minutes to play. A tired, bruised, battered Tiger defense stuffed Rebel tailback Carlos Davis for a two yard loss. After a timeout, sophomore defensive end Anthony Johnson slung Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace to the turf for a sack, and Lavar Edwards followed that with a sack of his own.
“They go down in there, and if they get a three-pointer, they take a commanding lead,” said Head Coach Les Miles. “It ends up basically about fourth down and twenty five. We just back ‘em out of there.”
The trio of negative plays forced Ole Miss to attempt a 53-yard field goal which sailed wide of the right upright to turn the ball back over the the Tiger offense.
LSU’s offense took the baton and finshed the job, driving down for a game-winning score.
It was the defense, though, that reversed the momentum and spurred on a crowd largely silenced by the Ole Miss offense.
Gearing up for a team that wound up on the wrong end of a 49-point demolition just a season ago can be a challenge.
This Rebel offense, complete with a new head coach and trigger man, bore no resemblence to the group that took the field in Oxford last November. This group gave LSU its best shot.
“I think everything we were doing was working,” said Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace. “It was just a really good game plan by the coaches. I thought we executed, for the most part, pretty well. There were still times we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We have to eliminate that.”
The so-called shootings came in the turnover department where LSU forced four. The cure for a big plays and a lopsided yard stick generally comes via the turnover.
Wallace was picked off three times resulting in six Tiger points.
After the game, all the Tigers wanted to talk about were the mistakes.
“They got some quick passes off, and we missed a lot of tackles,” said junior safety Eric Reid. “That’s just something we have to work on.”
Luckily for the Tigers, they won’t have to see Rebel wide recevier Dontae Moncreif again this year. Moncreif ripped through the LSU secondary for 161 yards and a pair of scores. Man-to-man, zone, it didn’t matter, Moncreif found vacant real estate, and Wallace found him.
“They were trying to play aggressive so I used my size, strength and speed,” Moncreif said.
But when it counted, LSU made the plays.
After allowing 35 points in the first 50 minutes, the Tiger defense slammed the door on the pesky Rebels for the final 10.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s one point, two points, six points, twelve points, it’s all about victory,” said junior defensive end Sam Montgomery. “That’s the main thing we focus on in our building, and (Miles) was proud of us tonight.”
It was only the sixth time in the Miles era that his team allowed at least 35 points. His only other win in those games came against the same Rebels on the same field two seasons ago.
“After those touchdowns, Coach Brick (Haley) called the defense to the sideline and gathered us around and told us it was our time to step up,” said junior defensive tackle Bennie Logan.
After almost four quarters of frustration, it was.